Future focus to guide Kendall Corridor study

A plan to explore new and redevelopment potential of Kendall Drive west of SW 137th Avenue drew an unexpected near standing-room-only crowd at the West Kendall Regional Library in The Hammocks on Oct 8.

The first in a series of Kendall Corridor charrette meetings saw Miami-Dade District 11 Commissioner Juan C. Zapata ask more than 80 residents to join with Miami-Dade County planners to develop “a new focus” for the thoroughfare going west to Krome (177th) Avenue, as well as areas within a half-mile north and south of SW 88th Street.

Study goals include creating a new vision for the future, transforming West Kendall to a destination, enhancing livability, providing transportation options and encouraging a mix of uses.

As proposed by Zapata, the study is similar in scope to three that have provided future development guidelines in Kendall, including the 1998 plan for Downtown Dadeland leading to new residential towers in mixed-usage development.

In 2006, the East Kendall charette established new land use and environmental guidelines and a 2008 Bird Road Corridor study produced new zoning and land use overlay maps to encourage safety, more parking and landscaping to guide future commercial development, east of Florida’s Turnpike.

“This is a chance for West Kendall citizens to come up with a plan for the future of Kendall’s major arterial roadway to improve Corridor transportation, commercial development and future environmental and zoning usages,” Zapata said, noting any recommendations would be in accord with the Miami-Dade Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP) and its Land Use Map.

“My top priority is to find a business or development that would give West Kendall new job opportunities, one paying above the Miami-Dade median wage of $32,000,” he stated.

“That could be a brand-new, exciting use for the 70-acres comprising the Town Center property, or a new redevelopment potential for the northwest block of Kendall at SW 137 Avenue.”

Qualifying his participation, Zapata added, “Understand, too, that I don’t want to influence your thinking because it could be misinterpreted as a political move. But I will be available to give my opinions whenever you want them while keeping this project independent of any political issues.”

His remarks ended an hour-long session that began with an explanation of the corridor study by Eric Silver, assistant director of the Development Services Division within the Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources, and Jess Linn, principal planner, Department of Planning and Zoning.

In sketching out a timeline for the program, Linn said the Oct. 8 meeting would be the first of several in November and December to solicit public suggestions about improving the corridor, leading to a January 2014 workshop when citizens would work directly with county planners to translate ideas onto land use or zoning maps.

A public hearing on proposed planning would follow in April before Planning Board review in June and submission to county commissioners by September.

“The dating, however, is very flexible,” he emphasized, noting that the schedule “may change as we develop public interest and participation.” Describing the corridor’s “roughly one-mile width,” Linn said the area comprised a population of 38,000 according to estimates from the 2010 U.S. Census.

Planners estimated current land uses as 222 parcels (vacant land); 690 (single-family residential); 330 (multi-family residential); 214 (commercial and office use), and 608 (agricultural).

A second study meeting is planned for November. For updated information and future meetings, contact Zapata’s office at 305-375-5511 or visit zapata@miamidade.gov

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